One of the most beautiful or maybe even the most beautiful town in France!Älgbert Elgson
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The small town of Eguisheim is located in the Grand Est region (formerly Alsace) and, with its half-timbered houses decorated with flowers, is one of the most beautiful villages in France. The streets run in a ring around the octagonal castle complex in the center. It is due to this „multilayered“ construction and not to the cultivation of the vegetables of the same name that Eguisheim is also known as an onion town.
The trail of history
Eguisheim was probably already inhabited before the Romans settled in this area and cultivated wine there. The first church was then built in the 11th century and expanded in the 12th century. Over time, the village was expanded with an octagonal castle and Eguisheim got the status of a town. During the 16th and 18th centuries, the city experienced its golden age despite the Thirty Years‘ War and the plague, as the population increased and the buildings eventually became too small. As fate would have it, parts of the already dilapidated church collapsed in July 1787 during a service. During the reconstruction, only individual parts of the old church and the tower were preserved and the rest was largely removed. In the 19th century, parts of the castle complex, such as the octagonal keep, were demolished and replaced by a neo-Romanesque-Byzantine chapel from 1886. This should was done in honour for Pope Leo IX. who supposedly was born in this city in 1002 and is therefore today known as the Chapel of St. Leo IX.
As part of the realm of Alsace-Lorraine, Eguisheim belonged to the German Empire from 1871 until the end of the First World War. The cityscape with the half-timbered houses typical of Germany is still reminiscent of this time.
On a tour through the small medieval town of Eguisheim, if you take a closer look, you can discover some buildings from bygone eras. The church tower preserved during the reconstruction and individual parts of the church from the 12th century are now integrated into the parish church of St. Peter and Paul, which was built in 1809. Together with Eguisheim Castle and the St. Leo Chapel, this is one of the most important sights in the small town.
The city is most convincing, however, with its unique construction and the beautiful half-timbered houses along the two ring roads „Rue du Rempart“ and „Rue du Allmend“. The many small signs on the houses, which tell visitors more about the city and its residents in French, English and German, are also interesting. Or did you know that in earlier times the coats of arms, typical in Alsatian cities, above the doors of the houses revealed a lot of information about the homeowner and what the individual symbols mean?
The half-timbered houses in Eguisheim are particularly nice to look at in summer, when the buildings, which are already worth seeing, are also decorated with flowers and various festivals such as the wine festival are celebrated. But even in the Christmas season, the small town does not lose its charm and a Christmas market delights large and small visitors.
For wine lovers there is much more than just a sufficient selection of fine fermented grape juice in Eguisheim and the surrounding area. In addition to many private winegrowers with excellent wines, there are also one or the other larger wine cooperative such as the Wolfberger wine house at the gates of the city. Inside the building, various wines and spirits can be tasted and purchased, or you can take a look at the historic wine cellar with its storage barrels from 1902.
How to get there?
For all those who arrive with their own vehicle, there is a large parking lot in front of the old town. The price for a day ticket is € 3.00 (as of 2019) and there are several toilets. If you want to travel by public transport, the nearest airports are in Strasbourg and Mulhouse. These cities are also important for train and bus travelers.
Despite its modest size, Eguisheim inspires us with its beautiful half-timbered houses and the many small details every time we visit. Depending on the season, there are more or fewer souvenir shops along the two ring roads, so anyone who wants to see the small town quietly and in its original form should either travel in the off-season or explore the city very early in the morning or late in the evening. Visitors should be aware that the city is very small and only individual attractions for children (e.g. slow train, …) are offered.